I've noticed something. I've talked before about how Ger and I have joined the Tribe of the Baby People. It involves obsessing over your baby, the things that come out of your baby, and the things that will come out of your baby. I've also discovered that it involves its own language, much like the "l33t sp33k" of online gamers. Compare the following passages, which were both taken from actual messageboards on babies and Counter-Strike, respectively:
Ive given it my customary two weeks and then some and dd is still getting up really early, ive reintroduced the d/f which used to work, and am ready to move on to pu/pd or pat/shhh instead of CIO. She is 8mo.
do u know what 2 do ur CDkey doesn't work? I lost mine LOL and need it 2 pw33n some b1tch3s LOL!!11
Funny thing is, they're essentially saying the same thing. Something about a Chief Information Officer who lost the key to his CD-ROM drive and has 8 months to find it.
Sam still isn't napping, and we're about given up on the modified CIO ...er, cry it out method I mentioned before. She just hasn't made any progress and we're forced to let her nap on walks or in the bouncer or in Ger's lap after nursing. Maybe we'll try again in a month or so.
Sam is, however, learning one important new skill. She's learning to eat her feet. Apparently, her feet taste like candy! They must, as she crams them in her mouth every chance she gets and she seems to enjoy it. I've even seen her get both feet in at the same time. Perhaps she'll be a gymnast.
Finally, Sam's inheritance of facial and other bodily features has always a fun topic of conversation. But sometimes you just get tired of repeating yourself, so this week I've created a handy reference chart that you can print off and refer to next time you think, "I wonder who Sam got her cheekbones from?" Click for a larger version:
I've got the brow, chin, cheeks, and nose covered. Ger has the hair, general coloring, eyes, fingers, and toes. For more information, see this week's pictures:
I noticed this story on BoingBoing.net about the web magazine Fast Company's bizarre linking policy. You know the Internet, right? Built on the concept of hyperlinking and sharing (or at least pointing to) new information? Yeah, FastCompany thinks that's silly.
From their "Linking Policy":
Due to the large volume of requests we receive, we do not have a reciprocal linking program. However, if you like, you may link to us at no cost. This option requires the execution by you and Fastcompany.com of a one-page Web-linking agreement. Please download and sign the agreement and fax it to 617-738-5055, attn: G+J legal, Fastcompany.com. As soon as you receive back the agreement signed on behalf of Fastcompany.com, you may begin linking to our content.
So if I were to link to them, I'd have to download their legal document, sign it, fax it to their legal department, and (just to be safe) call to get confirmation that they received it. Good thing I'm not linking to them, because that'd be a lot of trouble. As the BoingBoing article says, better to just let the "Web that Fast Company has built its business upon [crumble] into a billion individuated and unlinked pages."
I don't normally talk politics here. It's just not the sort of thing you do in mixed company. But I have to say that regardless of which side of the fence I were on, I'd still find this new ad by the Bush Campaign utterly insane (I think you can also see a larger version fo the video on the front page of georgebush.com at the time of this writing).
I watch this ad, and my mind boggles trying to figure out why they'd run it. It basically shows people (Gore, Kerry, and Michael Moore) saying what an incredible failure and horrible person Bush is. Oh, and also there are Nazis. I guess the point is to show that Kerry and his supporters are zealous and irrational, and that Kerry regularly seeks political advice from Hitler's brain in a jar. But I think what really happens is that the Bush campaign is just giving time to Bush's critics and viewers are left saying "What hell was that?" Bush is attacking himself, and apparently he believes that a off-handed "Nuh-uh!" at the end buys it all back.
Like I said, I can't beleive that they're running the ad. There's a good discussion of it here, though, with people coming down on both sides.
People have been talking about telecommuting for quite a long time. For a lot of people, I can see how it makes sense to work from home using helpful information technology like the Internet and the phone to stay in touch. I've often thought, though, that I like getting out of the house and interacting with people, or at least being in their company. That's why I found this article about "work clubs" pretty interesting.
The idea is simple: Telecommuters get to ...get out of the house to work. Not in the office, heaven forfend, but at a swank and stylish "work club" that's kind of like a dance club, but with spreadsheets instead of dancing. Here's what the Quote Monkey came back with:
The goal of Gate-3 Workclub in Emeryville, Calif., is to create a new kind of community where neighborhood people can "work and network and hang out with friends," founder Neil Goldberg says.
...The 40 or so members of the Wi-Fi-equipped club drop in for a few hours a week. They rove around, spending time in the common areas or cafe, a few hours working in a hush zone, or meeting with a colleague or client in a conference area. They make private phone calls in a “cone of silence,” (aka phone booth), have support staff make copies, overnight a package or get a laptop repaired. Members can bring in their dog (if he’s quiet and passes an interview), and bring the baby (and they’ll deal with any crying).
That's just so ...bizarre, and sounds exactly like something you'd expect from the city (San Francisco) that gave us so much of the Internet boom. You don't work in an office, but you pay to work at a "work club". It's like being in the office, but you don't have to deal with that obnoxious guy two cubes over. Instead, I'm guessing you'll have to deal with some other obnoxious, latte-swilling yuppie. And she with you.
I'm not convinced that this would work unless they limit membership by requiring credentials or making it prohibitively expensive for most people. And at that point, it really becomes irrelevant to most of the world.
It's been a slower week this time. Sam is making lots of little improvements on grabbing things (including her feet, and shoving them in her mouth or ear, depending on how good her aim is at the time), watching things, and being cute. Unfortunately she's still fighting us bitterly about the whole nap thing, but we're going to stick with it for a while longer.
Geralyn has already begun talking about introducing solids. This frightens me. Not because of the mess and the extra work involved, though it's so easy and clean just to attach Sam to a nipple and let her go to town. No, what really worries me is ...the poop. Breast fed babies have surprisingly benign bowel movements with little or no odor. Put another way, they're not messy and they don't stink. But once you introduce solids, it's a whole other ball game. Things get gooey and messy and start to smell to high heaven. You put strained peaches in, but what you get out defies description. So yeah, I'm stalling on the whole solid foods thing.
Time for intermission. Here's some pictures. The rest of this update will continue after your clicking frenzy.
Done clicking? Okay. I'd just like to point out that if you get the joke on this shirt, then you're a total nerd. NNNNEEEEERRRD!
Yesterday was Father's Day and I was the guest of honor. Despite being under five months old, Sam somehow managed to drive herself to Best Buy and use a stolen credit card to buy me The Simpsons - The Complete Fourth Season. We're watching it together. Almost better, though, Geralyn handed me the car keys and let me take the whole afternoon off for some "me time." I bought a new game and saw a movie in the theaters for the first time in months. When I got back we had a picnic dinner in the park down the road. So a delightful time was had by all.
I noticed this story on Blogging Baby that reports on the most popular names for American boys and girls born in 2003, according to the Social Security Administration. They are:
|Boy Names||Girl Names|
|1. Jacob||1. Emily|
|2. Michael||2. Emma|
|3. Joshua||3. Madison|
|4. Matthew||4. Hannah|
|5. Andrew||5. Olivia|
|6. Joseph||6. Abigail|
|7. Ethan||7. Alexis|
|8. Daniel||8. Ashley|
|9. Christopher||9. Elizabeth|
|10. Anthony||10. Samantha|
Well, lookie there. Samantha (my new daughter's name) is #10. Also on the list are names my friends have given their new babies, like Emma and Hannah. I feel so pedestrian. Or rather, Sam, Emma, and Hannah should. On the plus side, I should have no trouble finding any of them a cheap keychain with her name on it next time I visit a theme park gift shop.
The study by the Social Security Administration that Blogging Baby links to is a real time suck, too. You can look at the popularity of a given name over time (Samantha seems to have been in the top 10 for years), but the really fun thing to do is look at the 1,000 most popular names by decade. So we can see, for example, how someone from the 1920s named "Leroy Woodrow Smith" would feel like he had such a plain, unremarkable name. It's also kind of fun to look at the girls' names from the 80s, with entries like Jessica, Ashley, Tiffany, Kimberly, Lauren, Brittnay, and Courtney. Is it me or do those just scream the 80s?
Oh, and by the way if you put in my wife's name all you get is "The name Geralyn is not among the top 1,000 female names for years 1990-2003." That's okay. At least she doesn't have to worry about the gift shop running out of keychains with her name on them.
I used to like Garfield the comic strip cat when I was young. That hardly makes me special, as it seemed every other kid in my school also had a bunch of the books and learned to draw him on our textbook covers (and a few pages, despite our burgeoning judgement). Garfield was the perfect, bland paste f a comic to cut my teeth on, but as I grew older my tastes matured in the predictable directions. Since then I hadn't really gave him much thought until the movie came out, when I paused to think "Wow, that looks terrible."
Turns out according to this article on Slate.com that that's exactly what Garfield's creator, Jim Davis, wanted. Well, not the "that looks terrible" part, but the "never really thinking about Garfield" part. Turns out that Garfield is a brand first and a comic second. Shock and surprise, I know, but what's interesting is that while most comics probably start off as art and then sell out, Garfield was designed from the start to make moolah:
Davis makes no attempt to conceal the crass commercial motivations behind his creation of Garfield. ...The genesis of the strip was "a conscious effort to come up with a good, marketable character," Davis told Walter Shapiro in a 1982 interview in the Washington Post. "And primarily an animal. Snoopy is very popular in licensing. Charlie Brown is not." So, Davis looked around and noticed that dogs were popular in the funny papers, but there wasn't a strip for the nation's 15 million cat owners. Then, he consciously developed a stable of recurring, repetitive jokes for the cat.
...Garfield's origins were so mercantile that it's fair to say he never sold out—he never had any integrity to put on the auction block to begin with. But today Davis spends even less time on the strip than he used to—between three days and a week each month. During that time, he collaborates with another cartoonist to generate ideas and rough sketches, then hands them over to Paws employees to be illustrated.
By comparison, Davis spends nearly every morning working on "concepts for new products."
I had kind of heard that already, though. I knew Davis doesn't write or draw his own comics anymore, and that the comic was as purposefully bland and unimaginative as the white Wonder Bread we all loved as kids. But what I wasn't aware of, though, is the pains Davis goes to keep it that milquetoast:
But Davis feared overkill. Garfield was veering into the realm of faddishness. In the late 1980s, Garfield plush toys with suction-cup feet were so popular than criminals broke into cars to steal them and sell them on the black market. Davis, protective of his creation's unobjectionable blandness, knew he had to act fast before people began to hate Garfield. "We accepted the royalty checks, but my biggest fear was overexposure," he told Entertainment Weekly in 1998. "We pulled all plush dolls off the shelves for five years."
Wow. Here's a guy so protective of his brand's demure image that when a product became too successful he pulled it off shelves. That takes guts. As for the rest, I know that many artists hate Davis (webcomic artists in particular it seems), the guy seems to be the friggin' American dream in action. He found a business and exploited it. Better yet, his creation isn't killing people, robbing them, or destroying The Environment. Not like that damn mouse.
I've posted another short story, this one entitled The House off Route J. It's the second story I wrote for the Great PlanetCrap Writing Experiment, which I'm enjoying quite a bit. One short story a month is about the right pace.
That being said, I'm not really sure how much I liked this story. It's long, mainly because I wanted some exercise in creating a plot, but that doesn't bother me. It could be longer, in fact, and I'm considering turning it into my novel for National Novel Writing Month come October. But this story seems kind of sterile despite the copious use of descriptive language. The characters just don't seem to feel real. As one reviewer in the writing club mentioned, they just don't sound like who they're supposed to be. I'll be addressing this flaw in my story for Round 4, which I'll probably post the first week of July.
Anyhoo, please feel free to read The House off Route J and send me any feedback you have. I'm quite open to it.
Yeah, we just had a sizeable earthquake here in San Diego, right off the shore. And there was apparently another one up near L.A. It measured 5.1 on the Rictor scale, which is only moderate. Still, it's pretty freaky to be on the second floor of a 19 floor office building when it starts to shake and shiver like a Jell-O mold. It seemed to go on for 6 to 8 seconds while we just looked at each other and said "Uh, what are we supposed to do?" It stopped right about the time we were getting ready to get under our desks. Our not-so-quick thinking probably would not have served us well if it had been worse.
When my friends and I were kids one of our favorite jokes was to go up to someone and say "Can you answer a simple yes or no question?" When the victim said that they could, we would ask, "Do your parents know you wet your bed?" Hilarity ensued, and sometimes a beating.
Turns out that this little trick is amusing not only to witless children, but also to members of the Republican National Committee. As evidence, I present a survey sent to one of my co-workers. The survey has all kinds of horribly worded questions (they word items so as to encourage people to respond in ways that support their agendas), but the multiple choice question that asks, "Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?" takes the cake:
The first available choice is pretty straight forward. The second is sly if a bit disingenuous. The last one, though, is the one that reminds me of those precious childhood moments with the "Can you answer a simple yes or no question?" challenges. Draw your own conclusions.
Where to start? With the screaming, I suppose. Specifically, THE SCREAMING. When we got back from vacation earlier this week, Ger and I decided that it was past time for Sam to learn to nap in her crib during the day. She's stupendously talented at sleeping through the night, but napping has yet to come easily to her, and the result is often a cranky baby by early evening and total meltdown by 7:00 or so. So naps are in order.
After some research and opinion hunting, Geralyn decided on a mish-mash approach that combines elements of the Ferber method (a.k.a., "Letting them Cry Until Their Lungs Deflate Method") and some stuff from a book called "The Baby Whisperer". It's quite complex and nuanced. We start off letting Sam scream her head off for 4 minutes --as she always done because we are messing with her world through the unthinkable act of trying to get her to sleep in her bed. After 4 minutes Ger goes in and comforts her, then leaves. Screaming resumes for 8 minutes, 12 minutes, 15 minutes, and 15 minutes. Eventually Sam goes to sleep. Or as others might say, "tumbles into an exhausted slumber from all the screaming".
Now this is hard. Really f'ing hard. Ger has called me at work completely distraught, convinced that the Child Screaming Warden (I imagine his badge would look like a little silver pacifier) is going to show up and tell her that her baby has used up all the screams there are in the entire world, and that now she must PAY for all that screaming. Yesterday and today I took Ger's place in this whole ugly drama and I completely agree. It's heart breaking, no matter how much we know it's going to be worth it in the end.
On a happier front of the baby battleground, Sam has discovered her newest Favorite Thing: this keyboard I'm using to type these words. Ger handed her off to me while I was doing some surfing, and the next thing I knew she reached out and started pounding on the keyboard. I think she almost reformatted my hard drive. I know she bookmarked the Wonderbra page of the Victoria's Secrets online catalog, except that she named it "Favorite Recipes." Delighted to channel this interest, though, I opened up a word processor and let her go to town crafting Baby's First Manifesto:
I think you'll agree that the use of allegory is both subtle and brilliant. She's a friggin' genius. I believe Sam's other talents include gardening, as her other Favorite Thing at the moments is to rip out my chest and arm hairs like they're weeds. I also think she has enough drool to water the whole lawn if I were to sit her down out there for a few minutes.
And now, more cuteness in pictographocal form:
Few fun things to note about these pics. First, Sam got $20 from her Great Aunt Cleo at her christening party, and we decided to spend it on another Baby Einstein DVD. We did this without consulting Sam, as we were pretty sick of the Baby Bach one. We got the Baby Mozart one, and as you can see, she's completely entranced whenever we put it on.
We've found that it's terribly easy to spend the whole weekend inside the house if you're not careful, so we decided to go to the beach. Sam just slept through most of it while Ger had a delicious fish taco and I tried to rationalize away irrational fears that our baby was going to somehow get sucked out to deep sea by a riptide, even though we were two hundred yards away from the water.
Okay, I'm caught back up on Sewing Oats, with page 17 and page 18 now up. One note here: If you're reading this, you should re-read the lat bit of page 16. I was originally going to have Thomas and Angela chased through some corn fields by an armed attacker, but I just couldn't make it work the way I wanted. It kept coming out cliche, so I dumped that scene. So disregard the gunshot that occured at the end of page 16. I took it out.
The wonders of electronic publishing, right?
Okay, I'm back. Sorta. As you can see from the stories below, we've been busy the last couple of weeks. Ger, Sam, and I flew from San Diego to Saint Louis, then drove from St. Louis to Tulsa, then drove back to St. Louis, then drove from St. Louis to Taylorville Illinois, then drove back to St. Louis, then flew back to San Diego. During that time we visited Ger's parents, visited my parents, attended a wedding, and had Sam's christening ceremony.
I had my laptop and camera with me, so I was able to keep up on the Sam's Story updates (see weeks 18 and 19 below), as well as the wedding and christening, but for various reasons I was unable to update the site. So I spent the last couple of days playing catch-up, posting stories according to the dates they were written. Enjoy.
Unfortunately I've been too busy to restart posting pages of my novel Sewing Oats, so I'm going to end up being a few days behind before I can catch up. I don't think it really matters, though, since I'm not sure anyone is actually reading it. But I plan to be back on schedule by next Monday just so I can finish it up and move on to other projects.
The last stop on Midwest-Con 2004 was Samantha's christening in St. Louis. In a nice piece of life's little symmetries (sounds like a line of Hallmark cards, eh?), the ceremony was conducted by Father Dave Flemming, the priest who not only married me and Geralyn back in '97, but also conducted Ger's own christening back in '71. He even brought in the actual opening prayer and documents he had used back then. Also in attendance were Sam's new Godfather (Gary) and Godmother (my sister Shawn).
Not being Catholic, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was raised Southern Baptist (No dancing! No popular music! No alcohol! No fun!), where baptism was the hinge upon which one's faith swiveled. Actually, that's not true. It's the decision to come forward of your own accord and ask to be baptized that's the hinge. The ceremony is just a chance for you to wear rubber overalls under a robe and get dunked in tepid water while the rest of the congregation watches. It's the decision that counts. That's why baptizing a baby seemed a little odd. Babies have no free will. They can't decide whether or not to poop, much less decide to profess faith in an ineffable deity.
But it turns out that Catholics have something for that later on in life (the profession of faith thing, not the pooping, though I'm prepared for anything at this point), and the christening, like most ceremonies, is mostly ceremonial. It's a blessing upon the child and her parents. A large part of it is also for the godparents, who promise to make sure the kid is raised Catholic should Ger and I die in slow motion while saving the Earth from a meteor the size of Texas.
I also knew that this ceremony was important to Geralyn and the rest of her family, so it was important to me. And that's enough. Here's a few pictures:
Oh, and here's a fun fact: The water used to baptize Sammie was taken from the Jordan River, the same river where Jesus was baptized around 2,000 years ago. At least it was mixed in with the water we used. A woman involved in the christening scheduled before ours said that she had traveled to the river and collected the water to use in her ceremony, and that we were welcome to use it. Amusingly, my dad's initial reaction when I told this tale was "I hope you washed her head off afterwards!" Apparently, the Jordan River is filthy and full of disease these days. So I'm kind of torn. Sam has yet to come down with diphtheria, nor has she founded a new religion that reshaped the world, so I'm guessing it didn't really matter one way or the other.
As I mentioned in the last update, it's been a REALLY busy week, and a tough one for Sam. We've been continuing our whirlwind tour of the midwest, stationed out of Ger's parents' house in St. Louis. This weekend we had to leave Sam overnight with someone else (Ger's parents) for the first time while we attended my friend Gary's wedding in Illinois. Man, that was tough.
The night before we tried to get Sam used to Ger's mom by having her take a bottle from grandma. This was met with hideous shrieking. And also, Sam cried. In fact, she refused to take the bottle and screamed herself to sleep. We were pretty convinced that we were going to have to take Sam with us to the wedding, lest she call the Child Welfare Department and have us hauled off when we returned. Grandma won us over, though, as Sam finally took the bottle after her shriek-induced nap. So we handed her off, pinched our noses, and got in the car the next morning.
Turns out, it was the right thing to do and though we missed Sam greatly (Ger called to check on her every couple of hours, thanks in no small part to my goading her to do so) we also enjoyed our first time alone. At one point Ger, who is still breast-feeding Sammie, turned to me and said "You know what? I can have soda! And coffee! And a glass of wine! Two glasses of wine!"
"Yeah," I told her, "but why stop there? You should do some smack!" At that point, I was the one who got the smack.
We did enjoy ourselves, and Ger did get those two glasses of wine. In fact, we capped off the night by splitting a bottle of champaign in our quaint room of the Taylorville Bed and Breakfast. We even slept through the night without worrying about the baby monitor.
The only way Sam was really able to interrupt our festivities was that the mechanics of breast feeding mandated regular pumping to keep Ger's boobs from popping like two water balloons filled to overcapacity. She shamelessly stored the milk in the B&B's communal mini-fridge, right next to the bottled water and Diet Coke, which I'm sure got a few puzzled stares out of the other guests.
Oh, and you know what? It's not over. Later today Sam gets christened in the same church where Ger and I were married, and by the same priest. Pictures and post to follow.
A buddy of mine from graduate school got married this weekend and did me the honor of having me as his best man. The wedding was in Taylorville, Illinois and was the main reason why Ger and I were traveling (we scheduled Sam's christening the day after and a trip to see my parents the days before). I had been an usher in previous weddings, but this was the first time I got to be the best man. My biggest responsibility, though, was the toast at the reception. I had been thinking about it for a while and eventually decided on a few nice words about the groom and an updated version of a traditional Irish blessing that dealt with his life in the public policy sector.
I think it worked pretty well, though as you can see from the pictures below I look like a friggin' penguin wearing that tuxedo. A penguin with a mic.
Gary and Jennifer, if you're reading this then congratulations again!